Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Dublin, John Lahart TD has said if cycling is to become one of the solutions to sustainable and healthy urban transportation then more innovative, radical ideas need to be considered.
The ‘Ciclovía’ scheme, which was first established in the Colombian capital, Bogotá over 40 years ago sees main orbital traffic routes transform into a cycleway for a proportion of the day each Sunday and Bank Holiday. It’s now become one of the largest, most popular and successful street cycle schemes of its kind worldwide.
Lahart said, “I am the very first to admit that this concept, when heard of at first, seems extreme. But let me be clear, if on the one hand we are wishing to more widely promote city living for young families, and attract more people to the city, then we are going to have to consider it from another perspective.
“Having the space to exercise or safely commute by bicycle is becoming increasingly difficult for city dwellers. Our roads are dedicated and designed for cars but why shouldn’t at least some of the roads in our increasingly vast city be as safe, as popular and as enjoyable for cyclists too?
“More than 400 cities across the globe are now trialling their own car –free schemes to promote cycling at least once a week. If Dublin is to advance at pace with other metropolitan capitals around the world such as Paris, Ottawa and Brussels, as legislators we need to shift our attitude.
“Sunday cycling has the potential to become a normal aspect of life; part of a weekly routine. To be able to roam freely by bike without having to panic about segregated cycle lines, minimum passing distance or dangerous junctions would liberate many Dubliners.
“Later this year, the largest international cycling conference, Velo-City, will take place here yet if you ask many of the cyclists that regularly use our roads they’ll likely detail the danger posed by choosing to commute by bike.
“Hundreds of people will be arriving in Ireland to discuss important topics such as moving towards more sustainable, environmentally-friendly transport so it only makes logical sense that we would be kick-starting similar conversations ourselves.
“By broaching a scheme like Cicolvía for Dublin, I’m not suggesting to immediately ban or supress cars in the city centre, that would be extreme, but we need to get innovative if we are serious about making cycling more appealing and enjoyable.
“Opening up some Dublin’s cobbled streets to cyclists for even a couple of hours on a pilot basis on Sundays could change the culture of health in the Capital, increase activity and benefit our environment, even slightly,” he concluded.